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Ready-To-Wear Repair

Every time I decide to sew or go shopping for clothes, I make a conscious effort to add something cohesive with the rest of my wardrobe. But it never, never, never works out. Nearly every morning (if I have to leave the house), I stand in my tiny, inefficient closet and wonder why I cannot ever get this concept right. Why after sewing a few items, and adding more RTW pieces, I still cannot find the right thing to wear.

There are many reasons why this is happening, but I am going to talk about one for now: F-I-T. It is the main reason I return, donate, giveaway, or up-cycle my clothes. I would rather do all the things I just mentioned before I would pick up someone else’s work and try to make it fit me. My hell would be a life of altering RTW clothes.

On a recent splurge at one of my favorite stores, I ordered, fitting-room unseen, several items that I thought could look fabulous on me. They did not fit. Too long, too big, and defective. I did not want to take any of them back because I really liked the pieces. My favorite was this embroidered chambray cotton shirt. The back piece of the shirt was taken from the pile that was two sizes too small. The front bodice was fine. There was nothing I could do to change the back because of the embroidery.


There’s no way this was a large. I get this shirt at a deep discount, and it was sold out before I could find another one in my size.

I took the seam-ripper, removed the sleeves, refitted the armscye, and added a pink bias binding around the armhole. I turned a Winter shirt into a Summer piece, and I could even wear a long sleeve t-shirt underneath for layers.

IMG_20170324_172142My second piece was a gorgeous pullover beaded cotton weaved fabric dress. It was a medium, and based on the website reviews ran large, which was true around the body, but the armscye was for a person with no upper arm flesh. That’s not me. The dress was also 12 inches too long.

IMG_20170326_004838I cut the dress shorter, took the cut fabric from the hem and added a four-inch gusset into the armhole. The only problem were the beads around the arm…I did not see why I had to have beads all around the sleeve edge anyway. No one looks under my arms. I did however have to hand secure the beads where I attached the gusset. Now I can move freely, and remove this dress without assistance.

This third piece was a huge dress and probably two sizes too big for me (at least). The side pockets hung too low for my arms to reach. This one was difficult because I wanted to add some shape to what looked like a potato sack. I measured and added bust darts, and restitched the armhole with the same bias binding, except it was now two inches smaller. It required a bit more surgery.

Because the hem was frayed, I was only able to shorten it by raising the shoulder and the bust dart, both which helped bring the pockets high enough for me to reach. I thought about being super ambitious and moving the the pockets up a couple inches more for perfect side pocket poses– but nah, that was too much work. It’s not like I was on a repair “mode” or anything. I was in hell remember?


My original dress before altering. Look how big the arm holes are. It was so large, you could see my bra.


I pinned the shoulders to where I wanted to stitch and raise the dress which also helped shrink the armscye. I also measured and marked the bust point.


Finished dress is subtle. Instead of a rectangle shape, it’s more of a chemise. I was able to keep the hem and embroidery at the base of the dress intact.

It isn’t just RTW that I have a problem with. I have been delusional about how well the clothes I made for myself actually fit me. Sadly, the seam ripper will be used heavily across all my work, and if I cannot get it right..up-cycle it goes. One linen dress I made a couple of years ago was near perfect except for the bodice fitting slightly lower than I would like. I knew I needed to raise the shoulder up slightly, but I never did. You know what happens when you have an ill-fitted trapeze dress? I think it probably puts about ten pound on you. We cannot have that can we? No picture of that one…but you can see it HERE at my old blog.


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